Swapping Modular Phone: Google’s latest modular smartphone prototype

January 18, 2015

Google with its Project Ara has created the very idea of smartphone, which is different from the common version. The phone has aluminum and steel frame, which looks like a ribcage when all the modules are popped out.


Right now, there’s a war to make the thinnest smartphone in the world. Google is a part of that with Android and with its Nexus devices. But it’s also attacking the very idea of smartphones as we know them with Project Ara: a project to build a phone that doesn’t cram everything into the smallest package, but one that lets you pick out and swap every important component. It’s a lot like the way many desktop computers still work — but for your pocket.

On stage today at the second Project Ara Developers Conference just down the road from Google's Mountain View headquarters, we saw it working with a 720p display module and receiver module attached the front, while the space for eight modules on the back included things like a camera, battery, and microUSB adapter. These are slotted into both sides of the phone, where they will stay put using electro-permanent magnets, though in these prototype versions they simply slide in.

Google says it’s already made a few changes since the initial prototype. That includes moving the electro-permanent magnets from the modules to the metal endoskeleton frame. It also changed its plan to 3D print the covers of modules, which are now being done with injection-molded polycarbonate plastic. Read more >>